Extreme Brexit could destroy rural communities, warns Liz Saville Roberts

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Plaid Cymru warns farmers could face same fate as miners

Plaid Cymru MP, Liz Saville Roberts has warned that the UK Government’s decision to pursue an extreme Brexit could destroy rural communities in search of “some right wing, free market nirvana”.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP spoke in a debate in the House of Commons on the effect of Brexit on the rural economy, and spoke of the contribution rural communities make “far beyond what is assumed” and accused the Tories of using smoke and mirrors by suggesting leaving the Single Market won’t affect trading conditions.

Wales accounts for around 5% of the UK population but receives 12% of the EU funds allocated to the UK countries and Ms Saville Roberts called for a commitment from the UK Government to keep maintain funding levels post-Brexit, as was promised in the referendum.

Speaking in the debate, Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts MP, said:

“By leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, jobs, wages and fundamentally our communities are being put at risk in search of some right-wing, free market nirvana.

“Tory Brexiteers will label any challenge to their dogmatism as negative but people are scared. The rural communities I represent are afraid that their whole way of life is about to be torn apart. And what hope is offered to them by the Prime Minister? Bland platitudes and soundbites.

“Rural communities need more than just lines crafted by some Government spin doctor. They need people in Westminster who understand what they do and are ready to fight their corner.

“Last year 60% of Welsh farms either made a loss or would have done so without EU support. As agriculture is intrinsic to rural communities, a threat to agriculture is a threat to the language, traditions and swathes of our cultural heritage. It is crucial that the UK Government honours the promises of Brexiteers that Wales will not lose a penny in EU subsidies once we leave.

“As important as EU subsidies is our trade links with Europe. 90% of Welsh food and drink exports go to the EU, as does a third of our lamb crop. It is therefore no surprise that the Farmers Union of Wales and the National Farmers Union Cymru, alongside many others, are unrelentingly calling for continued tariff free access to European markets.

“The smoke and mirrors of the Tories spin machine is laid bare when you begin to scratch away at their free-trade rhetoric. Within the EU we have the freest of trade. And we can continue to have it – quite simply by remaining members of the Single Market and Customs Union.

“If we slash and burn the support mechanisms we afford our already struggling farms and toss them on the Brexit bonfire, then we are not only risking our food supply, but the future of our rural communities and the industries they support.

“Decisions need to be evidence-based, rather than the product of idealistic aspirations and clever sounding buzzwords. If Westminster wants to do to rural communities what they did to the miners, let them do so with their eyes open.”

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